Top of the second inning. Bases loaded. Two outs. The American League pitcher, Felix Hernandez, steps into the batter's box.
Mets fans across the country got off of their couches to grab a snack from the fridge or use the bathroom. In Shea Stadium, onlookers scurried to the concession stands, trying to beat the hot dog lines before the beginning of the third inning.
Of course, the inning was over. Johan Santana, the $140 million man, was on the mound, and the man holding the lumber only had nine career at bats. In a moment it would be time for a commercial, and Hernandez would be on the mound once again warming up to take on the heart of the Mets order.
That was what was supposed to happen. But a lot of things were supposed to happen for the New York Metropolitans in the last year. They were supposed to make the playoffs last year. Willie Randolph was supposed to manage the team in 2008. And they were supposed to be well above 500.
So instead of retiring the AL pitcher, Santana wound up, delivered, and immediately averted his gaze to the dirt in disgust. He didn’t even watch the baseball travel over the right field wall off the bat of Hernandez. First pitch. Grand slam.
The Mets would go on to lose the game to the last place Seattle Mariners.
After the game, Santana’s comments epitomized the Mets' season. When asked about that second inning grand slam, Santana told the media that the team was not making its “routine plays.”
Santana was referring to an error made by Mets third baseman David Wright earlier in the inning. He also told media, “he closed his eyes when he swung.” And, “I could throw that pitch 250 times, and you know he wouldn’t do it again.”
Well guess what, Johan? He did. And Wright is not the one who threw the pitch.
For the Mets the 2008 season has been characterized by finding a scapegoat. Last week, Randolph was chosen to shoulder the blame for the Mets' epic collapse at the end of last season. Omar Minaya chose to replace him with Jerry Manuel, but the blame game continues.
For the hype that he attracted, and the money that he demanded, Santana has been nothing short of a disappointment for the Mets this season. An “ace,” with a record of 7-6, stood in the clubhouse Monday night with microphones in front of his face. Instead of owning up to his own errors, he tried to pass the blame to his teammates.
An ace does not give up a grand slam to an American League Pitcher. And a good teammate does not point the finger at his own team. So what does that make Johan?
Just another member of the New York Mess of 2008.